Childhood, culture and society

Anthony Golden
Childhood, culture and society

“What we will be is there, in its configuration and its objects. Nothing in the open and walking world will be able to replace the closed space of our childhood, where something happened that made us different and that still persists and that we can rescue when we remember that place in our home. " Julio Ramón Ribeyro


  • Childhood and culture
  • Childhood disorders in today's society
  • Winnicott's transitional objects in childhood
  • The importance of language
  • Today's children, our social future
    • References

Childhood and culture

Etymologically, the word childhood comes from the Latin “infans” which means one who does not speak based on the verb “for” (to speak, to say). Childhood cannot be summed up in one definition; it is the permanent construction of the social and cultural, which determines the life of infants. In this sense, children's culture has been interwoven from a field of entertainment, support, and pleasure, which are found to build notions of what it means to be a child. Occupying a position that translates into gender, race, and class, which allows a definition from the other. In other words, the children's world is woven from the sociocultural positions of a country, and of the world. However, children's culture continues to be ignored especially in the world of children's films, who have been in charge of homogenizing it and establishing roles that the family and the school do not clearly give. For this purpose, it is necessary that the family and the school begin to make sense of the children's voice from their needs, tastes and interests, which will help them to be critical, and proactive, in the face of the different scenarios that they present. That is, it requires a childhood that treats children as a social, cognitive, physical, and moral subject, not a passive being characterized by consumerism. Consumerism that has been relegating those games such as the sweet tooth, strikeouts, stop, etc., distorting the child's interaction with his peers, and his imagination process, forcing him to meet the expectations of adultcentrism.

Childhood disorders in today's society

What makes the child suffer when carrying frustrations, longings, guilt, etc., that do not belong to him. Establishing it as an object of the generational desire of some adults who have not been able to understand that it is a subject with its own voice, and demands its own wishes. So much is the damage that is done to the child, that it manifests it in their eating behaviors, their interpersonal relationships, and their academic processes. Symptoms that end up in psychiatrists and psychologists, who often medicate a child that the only thing he was crying out for was to calm his discomfort in the face of a cultural event.

Of a culture that needs to be seen from different perspectives since all children are not the same, so it is necessary to use different tools that transculturality provides between them:

  1. The Intercultural: The therapist and the patient are immersed in the same culture. However, the therapist will take into account the socio-cultural dimensions of the patient's problems and the development of the therapy.,
  2. Intercultural: The therapist and the patient are not immersed in the same culture, but the therapist knows the culture of his patient, and uses it as a therapeutic instrument and
  3. Metacultural: The therapist and the patient are immersed in two different cultures. The therapist does not know the culture of his patient but understands the notion of culture and uses it to establish the diagnosis and treatment of his patient. In this regard, it should be said that these instruments will be effective as long as the child's ego prevails from a continuous dialogue that allows him to understand who he is, and without forgetting that adults do not lose their role when understanding the events that the infant goes through.

Winnicott's transitional objects in childhood

Something else must be added to this approach to culture from the approaches of Winnicott (1993), who establishes transitional objects and phenomena. Transitional objects are the process of acquiring the ability to accept differences and similarities. Taking into account that you can use an expression that designates the root of the symbolism in time, that describes the child's journey, from the pure subjective to the objectivity; and the transitional object (piece of blanket, etc.) is what is seen of that journey of progress towards experience. That is, transitional objects constitute only the visible manifestation of a particular space of experience that is not defined as totally subjective or completely objective. In the case of transitional phenomena, they represent the first stages of the use of illusion without which the idea of ​​a relationship with an object that others perceive as exterior to that being makes no sense for the human being. The truth is that this space is not internal to the psychic apparatus, but neither does it completely belong to external reality; and it constitutes the intermediate field in which both the game and other cultural experiences will develop. From these circumstances arises the fact that transitional objects and phenomena are fundamental for the experience that this child will build, who will later become an adult. An adult who will face various cultural phenomena that will be mediated from the positions that he has acquired since childhood, and thus consolidate himself as a critical and purposeful subject of his context. Taking into account that human beings are made of stories, which carry a cultural stamp that allows them to continue in the different scenarios.

The importance of language

With all of the above, language is essential for understanding the world in which the child lives. For it is thanks to language that the child reaches an understanding of the meaning of the social world in which he interacts, with the purpose of becoming a competent member of society. Undoubtedly, language is essential for human life, thanks to it, notions as important as mathematics, art, games, provide the reading in words of great thoughts and achievements. In other words, language goes from symbol and signs to a warm and emotional narrative, which men who were once children do are passionate about words. However, also often, the media establish family and child behaviors from a commercial marketing logic that seeks to increase the differentiation of the company that broadcasts the programs. Which leads to the calling of value systems from language, which stabilize, consolidate and transform, belief systems that are shared in a discursive field. Beliefs that are not always the right ones in a world that day by day poses challenges when it comes to facing otherness. In which it is necessary to rethink and enrich the relationships of boys, girls, and adults, as protagonists of the relationship. A relationship that is measured by social participation, not by a participation in consumption that is the anthem of neoliberal states, which instead of generating participatory subjects generates consumers or clients.

Today's children, our social future

The task must focus on thinking of childhood as a space or place in which the appropriate conditions are generated to initiate infants into social life. It is they who over the years will be social actors. Social actors that are constituted by a plurality of worlds that are born from words, that represent or symbolize the events that the little ones experience. The word has been considered as the tool that humans use to get closer to each other, to understand that stories intertwine in their journey. That is, the word as a construction of the imagination of the peoples who have made their events a becoming. In this sense, boys and girls have been building their worlds from music, literature, poetry, the latter as an instrument of recovery from a divided, fragmented world. Poetry and philosophy were separated in a chaotic moment in the non-narrable history of thought, which makes poets have the task of uniting thinking with feeling, loving with creating. In this way, they make infants implement knowledge with affection, which makes their growth not only individual but also in a group, which translates into that exchange of strengthening values, overcoming frustrations, and possible mistakes. In this respect, it should be said that the work of the school and the family should focus on teaching how to think, reflect, analyze, and order thought. Teaching to think is teaching to doubt, question, question, ask questions, and seek solutions. That is, teaching infants to think is to reconcile understanding with application, is to look for the positive, negative and interesting aspects of things, it is to set the imagination to dream of the future, it is to interpret and it is also to unlearn schemes that have lost validity.


Winnicott, D. (1993). Human Nature. Editorial Paidós Deep Psychology. Barcelona, ​​Spain.

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